Episode Description[edit | edit source]
The events in Obelle were disastrous for many, yet for The Society of Banners and Bright Returns, the nighttime raid on the seaside town went down in the book as a win. Now, they return to their home in the heavily stratified metropolis of Oxbridge in the heart of Stel Orion territory. After getting paid and tending to an unforeseen entanglement, the crew spends some time following leads, satiating their curiosity, and shoring up their reputation around town.
This is the first session featuring what Forged in the Dark games call “downtime,” a phase of the game that is focused on what the characters do between missions. Because it’s the first downtime of the season, we spend a little more time than usual going over the rules of play so that everyone can follow along. In the future, we’ll summarize as much of the bookkeeping as possible so that we can stay focused on the drama and decision making that makes these sessions sing!
This Week on PARTIZAN: Profit and Loss
///Operation Dossier\\\[edit | edit source]
//Organizations\\[edit | edit source]
House Bittenbach: “Before all others.” Technically, this is Bittenbach’s motto because they were the very first noble house in Stel Orion, formed after their founder orchestrated a grand betrayal on behalf of the Principality. Today, though, it is quoted as evidence of the house’s legendary hunger for wealth (and their willingness to break norms to satiate it.) The house’s holdings on Partizan are operated by Burden Bittenbach. They were originally assigned to operate the Obelle mission in SBBR’s place.
Carrion Collections: A low ranking scavengers squad with a handful of hollows that operates out of Stel Orion. Called shameless, even (especially) by those who employ them. Has a tense with SBBR due to a dispute over workshop materials.
The Isles of Logos: An independent nation built by the original followers of the prophet Logos Kantel’s around their very first church, though it has since become a secular and independent state—something largely unheard of inside of Principality space. Though only a small handful of islands in the Prophet’s Sea, the Isles keep a standing defense force that rivals any individual squad the Major Stels could throw at them.
The Church of the Resin Heart: Among all the sects under the wide umbrella of Progressive Asterism, one group—the Disciples of Logos—is dedicated to the teachings of the movement’s supposed founder, the Prophet Logos Kantel. Though there are a handful of Logos-aligned houses faith across the reaches of the Principality, none is as well organized or important as the Church of the Resin Heart, named for the uncanny, 3-foot tall heart that was recovered from the prophet’s sea many years ago. The Church, also named the Friends of Gur Sevraq in honor of their enigmatic and charismatic leader, are gaining followers as quickly as their leader can perform miracles. They claim the True God is coming, and seek to spread the word as far as they possibly can.
The Sable Court: Some say that on dark nights, they have seen Ashen witches on the eastern edge of Lake Timea, horns and antlers glittering in the light of Girandole. Some even say that a former elect walks among them, though whether she is the one they call the Loess, no one knows. It does not matter. Heresy, all of it.
//People\\[edit | edit source]
Midnite Matinee (she/her): The Leporine leader of Carrion Collections knows she’s destined for more. She and her trusty Pack-model light AutoHollow Popcorn (she/her) are going to take what they can get, even if it means stepping on people to get it.
Gur Sevraq (he/they): The enigmatic leader of the Church of the Resin Heart. “Liberated” the divine Future from Stel Columnar. Has performed a number of seemingly-verified miracles in recent months.
Mourningbride (she/her): An Ashen born to a high ranking family, Mourningbride was once an elect, but left her post and journeyed to the Sable Court after learning about her people’s ancient history. With his final act, Cymbidum requested that Thisbe deliver a message to Mourningbride.
//Places\\[edit | edit source]
The Low Slate: At its most welcoming, Orion’s territory on Partizan is a large, lowland plain covered with warm riverlands. At its most hostile, these are lunar lowlands, as the cratered and barren southern pole of the moon, the one place untouched by the prophet’s gift and the life that followed. Across the two is everything that makes Orion what it is: the control of vast spaces, agricultural and mineral wealth, a sense of prideful competition between aligned-yet-dueling city-states.
Oxbridge: Most bridges connect land to land, but the enormous Bridge of the Ox connects ocean ports to the docks of largest freshwater lake on the moon. Under this massive bridge rests Oxbridge, a dense city of canals and crimson light, and the first large scale Principality settlement to come to the moon, nearly 1000 years ago.
Oxbridge is split into three regions: Brightsky West, Underbridge, and Brightsky East. To the East and West, merchants, nobles, and the ever-upwardly mobile live, work, shop and play. But below the bridge’s shadow is an undercity of laborers both local and transient, eking by from job to job, day to day, by the fuel of their effort and the light of the red, phosphorescent “lamps” that give Underbridge its distinct glow, even in daytime.
Connecting it all together are a network of waterways, roads, and secret tunnels. And above it all is the Bridge of the Ox, the symbol of Orion’s commitment to (and mastery of) brute-force ideology.
The Pique Ridge: The mountainous region controlled by Stel Nideo, which rests northeast of Orion territory and west of Stel Columnar’s home on Partizan, the Memoria Teardrop.
Lake Timea: A lake and its forested environs which rests towards the northern reaches of Stel Columnar territory. Rumored to be haunted, hexed, or otherwise unholy.
//Things\\[edit | edit source]
AdArm Pack-model AutoHollow: A 20 foot tall, humanoid mech with broad shoulders, fully-articulating hands, and the headshape of a jackal. Designed for flexibility, the Pack can easily change its gear between missions, though it is most often seen wielding an anti-armor rifle. The Pack was designed to offer infantry-scale squads a little extra power or to supplement hollow squads with something maneuverable, reliable, and automated. They’re also exceptional bodyguard units, for those who can afford their upkeep.
//Additional Notes\\[edit | edit source]
The Nobel Fable of the First Wolves: In earlier days, when things were simple, The Nobel would say “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” And this was true when the Nobel were just the Nobel; but we determined that it was not enough for just The Nobel to be The Nobel, and the World to be the World. The Nobel needed the World; and the World needed the Lord.
So our flock roamed, and it grew, but yet we also found ourselves threatened by wolves. And in our short-sightenedness, we assumed the Lord would protect us—and when we suffered losses, we assumed the Lord was telling us to protect ourselves, and we warred with the wolves.
But then the Lord spoke to the Nobel, and the Lord said “Did you not say that the world needed the Lord? Do you not see, that as I shepherd the Nobel, I too may shepherd the wolves?”
And so the Nobel lowered our arms and we learned of the wolves—how they hunted not for sport, but for sustenance; how they had their pack, as we had a flock. And then the wolves became one with the Nobel under the Lord, and we grew; oh, we grew, we grew in a way that we could have never imagined, and we learned one of the most important truths that we still hold dear—only the Lord can see the true path for the Nobel.
In this mask, I wear this lesson. It is a reminder of God’s wisdom, God’s grace, and God’s potential not just for the Nobel, but for all the World. The Nobel are far from faultless; in our weakest moments, we assume we are greater than the World. We assume we know best, and that the wolves of the World must crook their knee to us and the Lord to receive the Lord’s gifts. But no. The Nobel are not sheep, to be held above all others, to graze passively in the Lord’s field under God’s watchful eye and protected by God’s fences; we are merely the first wolves that the Lord deigned to be the Lord’s pack.
And as we are also wolves, our strength lies in growing our pack.
Opening[edit | edit source]
Each of the stels of the Divine Principality react to crisis differently. Kesh contextualizes an event in its history. Nideo sends messages of stability through sermons and semiographs. Columnar identifies opportunity, and Apostolos seizes it. But for Stel Orion nothing ever seemed to change at all:
Across the Low Slate of Partizan, from the verdant fields of the Pyramid Plains, to the rich hills of Marengo, from the airless basins of the Old Old and into the depths of the bustling metropolis of Oxbridge… Stel Orion always keeps things going. It is always business as usual.
And if you asked Burden Bittenbach, descendent of the founder of Stel Orion, why this is, he might feed you a familiar platitude: Something about needing to keep your chin up when things are down, maybe. But in his heart, he would hide a different answer, something he might not ever even whisper, yet which flows through the veins of Stel Orion writ large:
“There is no such thing as a crisis at all. Things are always going wrong, and when they do, that isn’t an exception to the rule, but an extension of it. Expect every week to come with a bad day. Build a process around it. Have someone on standby. Take notes. Only a fool would expect anything else.
After all, when Stel Kesh or Stel Nideo or who-the-hell-ever came up with the idea of the Elect--someone chosen to pilot and interface with and speak to and corral these incomprehensible and unpredictable and minacious beings called Divines--they simultaneously, whether intentionally or not, invented the untimely death of the Elect too.
And deaths like that do not damage or disrupt or derail the engine of history.
They fuel it.””
Plot[edit | edit source]
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